It was a breezy day in north Florida, but that didn’t seem to slow down the world’s best. Thirty-four guys shot in the 60s on Thursday during the first round of The PLAYERS with Tommy Fleetwood and Keegan Bradley leading at -7. Tack on an albatross and a holes-in-one and it was an eventful first round at TPC Sawgrass. The PLAYERS Leaderboard
Tommy Lad and Keegs
Fleetwood and Bradley shot 65 reverse fashions on Thursday. Tommy posted his round during the morning session after making six birdies over his closing nine holes. Keegan then followed in the afternoon, going -5 through his first nine and coasting into the clubhouse at -7.
The past year has been pretty good for both of these guys. Keegan has won most recently after his triumph at the BMW Championship and gone from 76th to 34th in the OWGR. Fleetwood has turned into a perennial contender in “Big Events” and it seems like just a matter of time before he cashes one in.
Ben An and Brian Harman each shot rounds of 66 on Friday to sit just one off the lead. Both made seven birdies and just one bogey on Thursday. Harman is going to need to start hitting it better over the weekend if he wants to contend as he made up most of his strokes gained on the greens, finishing second in the field. An, on the other hand, hit the ball beautifully and actually lost 0.2 shots putting. If he can get a few to fall over the next few days, he will remain near the top of this leaderboard.
The PLAYERS marks the zillionth week in a row that Rory McIlroy is in contention. Rory has finished T4, T5, T4, 2nd, and T6 in his six starts in 2019 and again finds himself in the hunt. The Northern Irishman shot a bogey-free 67 on Thursday while gaining just 0.4 strokes putting. He put on a clinic off the tee and is primed to finally break through and win.
Other Leaderboard Notes
Twenty-one guys shot 69 (nice) on Thursday. Among them are Dustin Johnson, Jon Rahm, Sergio Garcia, Ian Poulter, Abe Ancer, Patrick Reed, Tony Finau, and Bud Cauley.
Tiger should be in that group at 69, but a short miss on 18 forced him to settle for 70. He made six birdies on Thursday but made too many errors to post a low round. It is still one of his lowest to ever start a PLAYERS, and he seems to be confident heading into the weekend.
Spieth still stinks. It hurts every time we write that. The three-time major winner made four birdies over his first round but still shot 76. Over his last six rounds on the PGA Tour, Spieth has shot 75 or worse four times.
Short par 4’s and the 12th at TPC Sawgrass
Garrett Ford examined TPC Sawgrass’ short par-4 12th, its changes and how it’s impacted the way the world’s best have played the hole. Looking at other short par 4’s on Tour, Garrett finds a thread that makes the most compelling recipe. Full story
Triumph of the human spirit
As most of you know, Andy and Brendan have been very vocal on the Shotgun Start on the subject of “Fan Vote Friday” for PGA Tour Live and their stacked ballots. This week was the last straw and the internet joined them in their quest to squash ballet stacking. The group of Henrik Stenson, Adam Scott, and Martin Kaymer came from way behind and knocked off Rickie Fowler, Brooks Koepka, and Jordan Spieth. After a predictable start to voting, the tides were turned thanks to the support of listeners as well as fellow media friends No Laying Up, Kyle Porter, Kevin Van Valkenburg and many more. Your support in rebelling against the crooked polls filled us with such joy and delight. More on today’s Shotgun Start below.
Harold Varner III was penalized two shots on Thursday for the way in which he replaced his driver during the round. After confirming his actions with the walking rules official for the group, HV3 put a new driver head on his existing shaft, breaking rule 4b. Full Story
Jack Singh Brar and Louis de Jager are tied for the lead after one round of the Magical Kenya Open. Leaderboard
Harris English decided he only needed two shots to play the 11th hole at TPC Sawgrass on Thursday. Yes, the one that’s 558 yards long. Video
Ryan Moore hit it exactly 121 yards on 17 today. It hit the bottom of the cup and stayed there. Video
The Latest Podcasts and Articles
It’s morning again in America: A Fan Vote Friday triumph at The Players
Andy and Brendan begin this Friday edition with a word of thanks to the greater golf community, from our friends in media to the audience, for coming out and keeping the world safe for democracy. We recall the pins and needles of Friday Jr. as election returns came in, and then the moment of triumph when all your get out the vote efforts came to fruition. We explain why Stenson-Kaymer-Scott beating the heavily favored Spieth-Fowler-Koepka is good for The Players and why it was a demonstration of the internet at its very dumb best. Then we get to the tournament at hand, discussing the pillow soft benign conditions, some early low scores from the two Rorys (Holywood and Bratislava), and the obscene Harold Varner III penalty. We also touch on Tiger’s day and react to Phil’s denial that he was not involved in the college admissions scandal. Flashback Friday focuses on the turmoil of 2011, when highly-ranked European stars had a war of words with the Tour and decided to skip The Players. The Masters fact of the day explains how ANGC was a precursor to the jumbotron now ubiquitous at sporting events. And before we sign off, we have a few words about Sergio aiding a marriage proposal and whether it was a false flag setup. Listen on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify
Spring Steam Shovel
You know you wanna… There are only 5 spots left for our first Fried Egg event at Lawsonia on May 4. Play for your chance to win 1 of 4 Shapland golf bags, a custom Bettinardi putter and much more. Come for the golf, stay for the camaraderie.